Multiple Sclerosis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Multiple sclerosis is a term derived from two words; the first is from the Latin word multus plus plica which means fold; and the second is adapted from the Greek word skelrosis, which means hardening.
| Friday, February 08, 2013

Sickness cannot be avoided because it is a part of our genes, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the addictions we harbor and the will of God. We may do everything to keep ourselves healthy but in the end it’s not us who make the decision. Sad but true…sicknesses and diseases are a part of our life on Earth.

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

This term is used to describe a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system - the optic nerves, spinal cord and brain. In cases that are severe the patient becomes blind and or paralyzed. If the case of multiple sclerosis or MS is milder then it maybe marked with numbness in the limbs. Multiple sclerosis is known as an auto-immune disease because experts believe that the central nervous system is attacked by the person’s own immune system.

Multiple Sclerosis - Causes

As stated earlier most experts are of the opinion that multiple sclerosis attacks the body's own immune system. The attack is made on the myelin in the same way that our immune system might attack a bacteria or a virus.

This attack maybe because of various factors, some of them have been listed below:

Genetics

Studies have revealed that the genes we inherit may someway increase the risk of us developing multiple sclerosis. If a close family member like a parent, sibling or grandparent has had multiple sclerosis then the risk of developing it increases.

Environment

The risk of developing multiple sclerosis varies according to the population groups and the geographical area. This disease is more common in northern Europe compared to southern Europe and similarly northern USA compared to the southern USA. This information has brought about the fact that sunlight maybe responsible for lowering the risk of developing multiple sclerosis. More sunlight which in turn means more Vitamin D plays a role in lowering the risk of getting multiple sclerosis.

Doctors and researchers are of the opinion that exposure to toxic substances like heavy metal or solvent may also increase the risk. Infections caused by viruses like the Epstein-Barr (mononucleosis), varicella zoster, may also be the factors that increase the chances of developing multiple sclerosis. Of course that information still needs to be proved by scientists.

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Following are some of the common signs and symptoms of Multiple Schlerosis:

  • Depression
  • Changes in Emotion
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with Bowel Movement
  • Bladder Problems
  • Problems involving Cognitive Functions
  • Dizziness and Vertigo
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Problems with Vision
  • Problem Walking
  • Tremor in one or both arms or legs
  • Loss of Balance
  • Problems while walking

Less Common Symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Loss of Hearing
  • Itching
  • Breathing Problems
  • Seizure
  • Speech Disorders
  • Problems with Swallowing
  • Shivering

At an Advanced Stage:

  • Problems with Thinking Coherently
  • Sensitivity (especially heat)

Multiple sclerosisis a disease that is said to affect people between the ages of 20 to 40. The signs and symptoms differ from person to person; in some cases it is so mild that nothing is noticed till later on, while in others the symptoms and signs are evident very early and they affect the body rapidly.

Multiple Sclerosis - Treatment

A sad and true fact is that multiple sclerosis has no cure! The treatment of multiple sclerosis focuses on various strategies to treat the disease and manage the attacks and symptoms associated with it. The strategies also focus on methods to reduce the progress of the disease. Luckily in a few cases of multiple sclerosis the symptoms are so mild that they do not need to be treated.

For Attacks

Attacks that are associated with multiple sclerosis are usually treated with different kinds of medication and treatment. Medicines like Corticosteroids are usually used to reduce the inflammation that rises when a relapse occurs. Plasma exchange is the treatment used to treat attacks in people with multiple sclerosis.

To Slow the Progress of Multiple Sclerosis

Various drugs like beta interferons, glatiramer acetate (copaxone), fingolimod, natalizumab and others are used to slow down the progress of multiple sclerosis. These medicines should not be taken unless prescribed by a doctor who will administer them once he has examined you and conducted various tests. These medicines are strong and stay in the system for months. Incase any complications arise; other medications are given to help your body eliminate the drug.

To Treat Symptoms

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis are painful so in order to provide relief physical therapy is one that doctors consider to be effective. Daily tasks become easier to perform with the help of the strengthening and stretching exercises that form an important part of the routine taught by a physical or occupational therapist. Apart from this, medicines to improve speed while walking, relax muscles, fight tiredness, reduce depression and pain are also administered by the doctor.

   
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